What is Wine?
In its purest form, wine is fermented grape juice. Fermentation is the process by which naturally occurring sugars in a substrate (grapes) are metabolized by naturally occurring microbes (yeast on the grapes) into alcohol. This process has multiple benefits: it acts as a natural preservative, it helps to get rid of toxins on the grape, and it makes the grape’s beneficial compounds more available to us humans.
What’s Healthy in Wine?
Wine is rich in polyphenols, the best known of which is resveratrol. Red wine has 200mg/glass and white wine has about 30mg/glass. Most of the health benefits in wine are attributed to these polyphenols. Wine also contains ethanol, a type of alcohol, which in moderation has its own health benefits. These components reduce inflammation, quench free radicals, decrease blood pressure, reduce blood clotting activity, increase absorption of nutrients, and act as prebiotics (food for probiotics).
Wine’s Health Benefits
There have been many studies correlating light to moderate wine consumption, 1 to 3 glasses (a glass is 5 ounces) per day, with reduced risk for:
- All cause mortality (that means death from any cause) 1
- Cardiovascular disease, including stroke (strongest correlation) 2
- Type II diabetes 3
- Depression (although, you probably shouldn’t drink wine if you already suffer from depression) 4
- Neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s 5
- Cancer 6
Choose a Healthier Wine to Fit Your Healthy Lifestyle
Conventional mass-produced wine is grown with a variety of toxic biocides, fermented with genetically modified yeast, and bottled with a number of additives to preserve it and enhance its flavor. This isn’t the kind of wine that you want.
Wine, like your food, should be of high quality. Look for organic or biodynamic wines without additives. Reds pack a greater antioxidant punch than whites. And remember, moderation is the key.
- Soleas, G. J., Diamandis, E. P. and Goldberg, D. M. (1997), Wine as a biological fluid: History, production, and role in disease prevention. J. Clin. Lab. Anal., 11: 287-313
- Grønbæk M, Becker U, Johansen D, Gottschau A, Schnohr P, Hein HO, et al. Type of Alcohol Consumed and Mortality from All Causes, Coronary Heart Disease, and Cancer. Ann Intern Med. ;133:411–419.
- Holst, C., Becker, U., Jørgensen, M.E. et al. Alcohol drinking patterns and risk of diabetes: a cohort study of 70,551 men and women from the general Danish population. Diabetologia (2017) 60: 1941
- Gea A., Beunza J.J., Estruch R., Sanchez-Villegas A., Salas-Salvado J., Buil-Cosiales P., Gomez-Gracia E., Covas M.I., Corella D., Fiol M., et al. Alcohol Intake, Wine Consumption and the Development of Depression: The Predimed Study. BMC Med. 2013;11:192
- Neafsey EJ, Collins MA. Moderate alcohol consumption and cognitive risk. Neuropsychiatr Dis Treat. 2011;7:465–484. doi: 10.2147/NDT.S23159.
- Pavlidou E, Mantzorou M, Fasoulas A, Tryfonos C, Petridis D, Giaginis C. Wine: An Aspiring Agent in Promoting Longevity and Preventing Chronic Diseases. Diseases. 2018;6(3):73. Published 2018 Aug 8.